Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory Therapist

Clinical Experience to Set Your Skills Apart

Respiratory therapists, also known as respiratory care practitioners, provide treatment, evaluation, monitoring, and management of patients with breathing disorders or cardiovascular problems.

Respiratory therapists administer oxygen, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, manage mechanical ventilators, administer medications, monitor cardiopulmonary systems, and measure lung function.

Our curriculum sets you up for a success with a wide range of classroom, laboratory and hospital-based clinical experiences at area hospitals and in-home health.

Apply Now Program Details

Kirkwood offers more than $3 million in scholarships for students each year. Many are meant specifically for students in health care programs. Respiratory therapist students may also qualify for the Kibbie Grant.

Graduates of the Respiratory Therapist program will be able to:

  • Manage and communicate clinical data
  • Assess and evaluate clinical data and make recommendations
  • Manipulate and manage respiratory equipment
  • Ensure infection control and quality control practices
  • Initiate, evaluate and modify respiratory therapeutic procedures
  • Initiate, conduct or modify respiratory care techniques in an emergency setting

A one-hour program conference is required prior to acceptance to the program. You'll learn more about the program, specific admissions requirements, and have the opportunity to have questions answered by program faculty and staff.

Program Costs

Respiratory Therapist 

School Year: 2024–25

Program Entry Semester: Fall

Pre-Reqs Fall Spring Summer Fall Spring Total
Credit Hours per Semester 11.5 14 18 11 14 14 82.5
In-State Tuition $2,495.50 $3,038 $3,906 $2,387 $3,038 $3,038 $17,902.50
Technology Fee per Semester $50 $50 $50 $50 $50 $50 $300
Clinical Expenses (mileage, lodging, screenings, etc.) $0 $500 $300 $100 $700 $700 $2,300
Conferences/Seminars $0 $0 $0 $0 $100 $650 $750
Course Resources (textbooks, software, etc.) $500 $640 $450 $225 $160 $300 $2,275
Course/Section Fees $20 $25 $40 $40 $50 $40 $215
Laptop (required devices) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Testing Fees $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Third Party Credentials $0 $0 $0 $0 $100 $860 $960
Tool Sets $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Uniforms $0 $225 $0 $0 $0 $0 $225
Other $0 $86 $0 $0 $35 $0 $121
Total Estimated Cost $3,065.50 $4,564 $4,746 $2,802 $4,233 $5,638 $25,048.50


Costs provided are estimated and based on the following current tuition rates: $217 (In-State), $290 (Out-of-State), $400 (International).

Fees and costs are subject to change.

To view all costs associated with attending college visit our Tuition and Costs page.

Additional Program Requirements

To get into the Respiratory Therapist program, you must meet the following additional standards. These steps/requirements are in addition to Kirkwood's steps to become a student. These test scores are valid for three years:

  • Attend a program conference
  • Apply to the program
  • Complete of prerequisite courses with a C- or better:
    • Basic Anatomy & Physiology (3 credits) or Human Anatomy & Physiology I & Human Anatomy & Physiology II 
    • Microbiology (4 credits)
    • Introduction to Chemistry (3 credits)
    • Intermediate Algebra (4 credits)
  • Have placement test scores or course equivalents on file with the Allied Health office

If college-level placement is not met, students are recommended to meet with an advisor. Kirkwood and Respiratory Therapist admissions policies and procedures are subject to change at any time. After all admissions criteria are met, students are accepted or placed on the waitlist to the Respiratory Therapist program.

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Our mission is to prepare graduates with demonstrated competence in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRT).

Respiratory therapists work closely with physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals to provide direct care to children and adults.

You'll take part in delivery of oxygen, administration of aerosolized drugs, endotracheal intubation, suctioning, management of life support, weaning of ventilation or life support, insertion of arterial lines, management of tracheostomies, and drawing and interpretation of arterial blood gas samples.

Advanced skills include intravenous, chest tube, and central line insertions, as well as bronchoscopy procedures.

Expect to treat all types of patients. Some of the most common situations you may see include:

  • Premature infants whose lungs are not fully developed
  • Elderly patients with chronic asthma or emphysema
  • Emergency care for heart attack, stroke, drowning, or shock

Students in Kirkwood's Respiratory Therapist program are encouraged to join the Kirkwood chapter of HOSA, a global student-led organization exclusively for students enrolled in health science education and biomedical science programs or have interests in pursuing careers in health professions.

HOSA is one of eight recognized members of the National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO)CTSOs are co-curricular groups that help students in career and technical education programs further their knowledge and skills by participating in activities, events, and competitions.

The Kirkwood Respiratory Therapy program, CoARC program number 200190, located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.

To prepare graduates with demonstrated competence in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practices as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs). Upon completion of the Respiratory Therapy program, you should have the skills and knowledge needed for board exams; TMC (Therapist Multiple Choice) exam (entry level), WRRT and/or CSE exam(s) (Registered Respiratory Therapist). Exams are administered by the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC). Listed exams are required for employment, along with licensure to practice respiratory therapy.

The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care can be contacted at:
264 Precision Blvd.
Telford, TN 37690


Successful completion of this program and passing the boards qualifies you to test for licensure and/or certification. View the state listing guide to identify which Kirkwood program fulfills state guidelines for professional licensure and certification.

Please note: To learn more about licensure or certification information, you’ll need to contact the state agency where you hope to work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Graduates with Respiratory Therapist degrees can obtain jobs in a variety of different career opportunities. Respiratory therapists work with doctors and nurses to treat patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly. 

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Typical duties for a respiratory therapist include:

  • Assessing heart and lung function at bedside
  • Performing diagnostic tests for heart and lung function
  • Providing oxygen and other gas therapies
  • Administering inhaled medications via aerosol treatments
  • Delivering various positive-pressure breathing therapies
  • Using techniques and treatments (e.g. suctioning secretions) to maintain an open airway
  • Performing CPR
  • Monitoring and maintaining patients on life-support systems, such as respirators
  • Drawing arterial blood samples
  • Teaching patients proper and efficient ways of breathing
  • Assessing vital signs
  • Assisting with endotracheal intubation
  • Managine patients with artificial airways
  • Performing studies and research related to the cardiopulmonary system
  • Educating patients on smoking cessation

Respiratory therapists must be able to organize tasks and work independently and as part of a team; communicate effectively in verbal and written form; solve problems and make decisions independently; maintain patient confidentiality; and practice respiratory care as a patient advocate. Therapists must have manual dexterity, good eye-hand coordination, integrity, and basic competence in science and math.

You may work evenings or nights when you first become a respiratory therapist. It is common to work some weekends and holidays. With flexible scheduling, you may work 12-hour shifts and get three to four days off each week. You will have exposure to patients with communicable diseases. By using standard precautions, you should have no greater risk of exposure to these diseases than does the general public.

Respiratory therapists have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, including: Hospitals, Nursing homes, Rehabilitation centers, Slepp labs, Home health, and Education institutions. The job duties of each respiratory therapist will vary depending on the setting in which they work. 


Allied Health
2164 Linn Hall